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COVID-19 EU PolicyWatch

Database of national-level responses

Eurofound's COVID-19 EU PolicyWatch collates information on the responses of government and social partners to the crisis, as well as gathering examples of company practices aimed at mitigating the social and economic impacts.

Factsheet for case GB-2020-14/1117 – measures in United Kingdom

Public sector union Unison launches COVID-19 hardship fund for members

Unison's Covid-19 Response Fund

Country United Kingdom , applies nationwide
Time period Temporary, 01 April 2020 – 01 July 2020
Type Other initiatives or policies
Category Employment protection and retention
– Income support for people in employment (e.g. short-time work)
Author Claire Evans (Warwick University) and Eurofound
Case created 14 September 2020 (updated 15 September 2020)

Background information

In response to COVID-19 and the predictably significant impact on public sector/key workers, the Unison public sector trade union launched a fund specifically targeted at hardship caused by the virus. Eligible members could apply for a one-off grant of GBP 250.

Content of measure

The union's charity, There for You, is a welfare charity established to help members experiencing financial and emotional difficulties. There for you provides a confidential advice and support service for members and their dependants.

In a specific response to COVID-19 and under the auspices of There for You, a special fund of GBP 250,000, raised in part through contributions from local union branches, was established in order to help members experiencing difficulties caused by the pandemic. Eligible members of the Unison trade union could receive a one-off grant of GBP 250.

To be eligible for this financial assistance, the person must have been a member of UNISON for at least four weeks and must be up-to-date with their subscriptions. Partners or dependents can also apply.

The fund is currently suspended.

Use of measure

The fund is currently suspended but 900 members directly benefited from the one-off grant of GBP 250.

Target groups

Workers Businesses Citizens
Other groups of workers
Does not apply to businesses Does not apply to citizens

Actors and funding

Actors Funding
Trade unions
Trade union

Social partners

Social partners' role in designing the measure and form of involvement:

Trade unions Employers' organisations
Role Agreed (outcome) incl. social partner initiative No involvement
Form Any other form of consultation, institutionalised (as stable working groups or committees) or informal Not applicable

Social partners' role in the implementation, monitoring and assessment phase:

  • Only trade unions
  • Main level of involvement: Sectoral or branch level


This is an initiative designed and implemented by one of the UK's trade unions, whose membership is drawn from the public sector. It was therefore not a negotiated agreement; it is an initiative on the part of one trade union.

Views and reactions

It can be assumed that other trade unions would, of course, have supported the assistance given to members who are suffering financial hardship.



Eurofound (2020), Public sector union Unison launches COVID-19 hardship fund for members, case GB-2020-14/1117 (measures in United Kingdom), COVID-19 EU PolicyWatch, Dublin,

Disclaimer: This information has not been subject to the full Eurofound evaluation, editorial and publication process. All information is preliminary and subject to change.